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August 1, 2007
Shakespeare's rhymes and rhythms

Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

While much has been made of Shakespeare’s rhymes and rhythm (iambic pentameter, if you must know), little is known of his skills as an MC. Interestingly, two productions this summer somewhat address this absence of knowledge.

In the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s genre-shifting production of “Romeo and Juliet,” a DJ breaks out some beats at the Capulet’s dance after the usual lute and recorder set. Though the scene is played straight, it’s hard not to laugh at the juxtaposition.

More intentionally funny is the hip-hop music lesson that Greg Bryan’s outrageous Hortensio gives Karyn Casl’s super-cool Bianca at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s “Taming of the Shrew” (pictured above).This jammin’ interlude raises the roof (well, it would if it weren't under the stars) and gets heads nodding, thanks to the two actors' gleeful abandon to the ridiculous moment.

If you don’t know the story, in order to gain access to Bianca, one of her suitors, Hortensio, disguises himself as the music teacher “Lit-E-O.” He must compete with Lucentio, also angling for Bianca’s affections, who has disguised himself as the scholar Cambio. (Check out my review.)

It’s interesting how similar ideas come to the surface in such different ways.

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